tv KQED Newsroom PBS February 26, 2017 5:00pm-5:31pm PST
welcome to kqed newsroom. coming up in our program, former u.s. labor secretary robert risch shares his thoughts on job creation. and longtime lgbt activist cleave jones talks about his new memoir when we rise, also the title of a new abc mini series. but first, as part of our coverage of the first 100 days of the trump administration, new rules from the department of homeland security to crack down on illegal immigration, including expedited removal of undocumented people who can't show they've been in the u.s. for at least two years. anyone immigration officers deem a threat to public safety or national security. president trump is calling for 5,000 additional border patrol
agents. the union representing border patrol agents endorsed donald trump in the presidential race. joining me now is sean moran, a border patrol agent in san diego, and spokesman for the border patrol union. mr. moran, thank you for joining us. >> it's good to be here, thank you. >> how is the new directive of the homeland security department affect how you do your work? >> the biggest changes we're going to see, one, the hiring of 5,000 new border patrol agents to supplement our operations. and then also, the changes in policy, most notably what is termed as catch-and-release where the vast majority of people we apprehend are allowed to stay in the united states. >> they're allowed to remain in the united states pending their immigration hearings, correct? >> in some cases. some they are released because they're not deemed a priority for removal under obama era policies. so that's going to change where we will be able to remove them,
and have them brought back to their country of origin. >> you've been a border patrol agent for 20 years. how does the trump administration and the way it's been carrying out its policies on immigration affect you and your ability to do your work, and what do you think of president trump? >> well, it really is night and day for the border patrol. for the administrations that i've been a part of, we had a lot of tough talk about immigration enforcement and border security, but it never really translated into real action. yes, budgets increased, manpower increased, but we never had the political will to have the border patrol agents go do their job. president trump has that will and is obviously expressing that. >> when you say do your jobs, what does that mean? what will it take to do whatever it is that you feel you need to do to be most effective on the border? >> i don't think we have to do anything new. i think with ejust need to do the job as it's written in the
law. congress passed the immigration and naturalization act. and over time, it has just been whittled down by administration after administration to where border patrol agents, unless they see somebody jumping the border fence, or swimming across the rio grande, they're really restricted in how they can enforce their authority. >> the new directives also expand the pool of immigrants who are subjected to expedited removal. does this now make your job harder or more difficult? because it also applies to people who have been in this country for up to two years, not just two weeks. >> i don't think so. obviously the numbers are going to be greater. but the job is going to remain the same. removing somebody from the country, making sure that the immigration laws are enforced, it's just going to be a matter of scaling it up. but i believe the border patrol can handle that. >> there's also talk of a wall, of course. last month president trump
issued an executive order authorizing the construction of a wall. yet, on your union's website, you call a wall along the u.s./mexico border a waste of taxpayer money. why is that? >> well, we refer to it in that way when people only want a wall. they don't want any type of immigration enforcement, or border security actions. the wall, fence, whatever you want to call it, is not the solution that's going to solve the problems. but it is a tool that is very valuable. it stops the vehicles that used to drive across the border almost on a nightly basis. and they would be overloaded with 20 to 30 people in each vehicle. it was a very dangerous situation. that doesn't happen anymore thanks to the wall. i think we'll see some supplementing of areas with more fencing, or possibly, you know, more sturdy wall. but it is just one tool that we have. >> how do california's border security challenges differ from other border states, say, for example, arizona, or other states along the border?
>> i think in california, we have less support from local and state law enforcement. there is the problem of sanctuary cities, and sanctuary jurisdictions that don't want to cooperate with immigration enforcement. and you do have obviously much more liberal attitudes about illegal immigration in california. >> based on your experience, is it more than just people from mexico now crossing the border? and people from central america? >> it is a very unique situation right now in california. we're seeing a large number of very exotic locations that border patrol agents don't normally see. romania, bangladesh, nepal, are all nationities we're seeing. we're seeing a lot of haitians. there are thousands of haitians transiting through tijuana right now trying to get into the san diego border patrol sector, requesting asylum.
unfortunately most of them are requesting asylum for economic distress, and that does not qualify. we'll have to see what happens there. we're also seeing a lot of cubans, since the adjustment of relations with cuba. >> although some p activists would take issue and say some of those people are actually indeed fleeing violence and persecution. i do want to ask you also about the other criticism of the new directives. some critics are basically saying that these new directives amount to something that allows for massive deportation of immigrants. do you agree with that? >> i can see how their perspective would look like that. we've had 25-plus years of minimal enforcement, in terms of immigration laws in this country. so i think any actions that are taken, or any actions that would be termed as normal as you look at the laws on our books, would seem more draconian or greater in number. but we can't apologize for enforcing the laws.
if you break the law, that's a choice that you make. there are consequences for that. >> finally, mr. moran, do you think the new directives go far enough in protecting and securing the border? >> i believe they do. i believe the laws we have on the books right now are sufficient to do the job. and i think a couple years down the road, a year or two, we can look at what we've accomplished, how we've made communities safer and then we can reassess what actions we need to take. >> sean moran, 20-year border patrol agent and spokesman for the border patrol union. thank you for being with us. >> thank you. and now, for a different perspective on immigration policy, and what the new rules mean for undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers, i'm joined by law professor for gender and refugee studies at uc hastings. karen, thanks for being here. >> thanks for having me. >> you heard what sean moran said about the need for more aggressive enforcement of
immigration law. your reaction to his comments? >> his -- he doesn't seem to really reflect the reality on the ground. so he's talking about the situation as if there's a huge problem with undocumented immigration. and the reality is, that president obama deported more individuals than any prior president. >> nearly half a million. >> nearly half a million. we also have the number of entries at the southern border, at the lowest point since 2000. so to present this as if we are being inundated by undocumented individuals, there's a little bit of a distortion. the other thing is, we're talking about potentially spending a huge amount of taxpayer money for a problem for which the public policy -- or the public policy benefits for doing this have not really -- don't really exist. so let me lay out a couple of observations here.
one is that, under the obama administration, even though large numbers were deported, there were priorities as to who would be targeted for deportation. they were individuals who really posed a national security risk, or public safety. >> or committed a violent crime. >> committed a violent crime. what we have now with the executive order and the implementation is a policy that all undocumented individuals are equally worthy of deportation. so we're talking about 11 million people, limited resources, and a policy to go after all of them without any discrimination. >> do you think there will be legal challenges on this, and on what grounds? >> i think there will be legal challenges on a number of the policies that are being helded in by this executive order. so let me give one example. one of the changes, we have a procedure in our law called
expedited removal. which allows for individuals to be removed from the united states without any access to the federal courts. very little procedure. in some cases, individuals could be removed just on the say of a border patrol officer. expedited removal used to be limited to individuals who had entered very recently or who were found within a certain hundred miles of the border. what this executive order allows is for expedited removal to be applied throughout the entire country. what this means is that individuals are not being provided any procedural rights. if an individual is encountered by a border patrol officer who doesn't believe they've been here for more than two years, that officer can immediately remove that person with no process. >> are you saying that the grounds it might be challenged on is that no due process, constitutional grounds? >> there would be constitutional
grounds. >> okay. if the policies we're seeing now, if they're not based on data, what are they based on? >> so we see this really full frontal attack on undocumented individuals, both in terms of making them all fair targets for deportation, massive expansion of detention, talking about building a wall, expedited removal, so we're talking about them as if they are a major problem. and the data doesn't bear that out. if you look at some of the factors that are frequently cited, such as undocumented individuals being a drag on society, all of the economic data shows the contributions far outweigh any of the benefits that they draw. their contributions in the tax system outweigh any of the benefits. the percentage of undocumented people who commit crimes is much lower than the native population. so if you ask me what is this
based on, it's not based on data. to me, it's based on the unfortunate scapegoating, when i totally understand that there are people in society who are suffering, who feel like they've been left behind. and for some politicians who are gem a going tos, it's easier to set people against each other. >> many of president trump's supporters feel he's doing a good job of carrying out on his campaign promises. isn't it reasonable for people to expect that the border is secured and that we have some control on who's here legally and who's not? >> yes, but we need a smart immigration policy to look at those individuals who are really a threat to the united states. and marshals our resources. we don't have infinite resources. if somebody has been here for 15 or 20 years, they have u.s. citizen children, and they've -- they're contributing to society, should they be a priority for removal? one of the issues we haven't gotten into at all is that many of these individuals that we're talking about are fleeing
persecution. they are legitimate asylum seekers. under our laws and international obligations, they have a right to enter the united states and try to seek asylum. >> you were part of a government commission, real quickly, in the 30 seconds or so we have, you were part of a government commission that was critical of the practice of detaining families. why? >> many of the families who are coming here, and many of the individuals who are coming here are fleeing persecution, they're asylum seekers. they've been through incredible trauma. our commission found that to detain those individuals was to retraumatize them. it's not only costly to the taxpayer, but it's incredibly retraumatizing. to have them show up and not abscond. the data shows that under alternatives to deportation, nondetention, those individuals show up at an incredibly high percentage, 85% to 95%. >> we'll have to leave it there.
karen, with uc hastings, thank you. >> thank you very much. and now to the economy. uc berkeley professor robert rice secretary of labor for president bill clinton, and also served in the administrations of carter and ford. he's an outspoken commentator on politics, and authors of books. i spoke earlier with professor risch. secretary risch, thank you for being with us? thank you. >> this week the trump administration released aggressive guidelines, broadening who can be deported. there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country, nearly a quarter of them here in california. what would happen to california's economy if that promised crackdown happens? >> if that large number of undocumented workers were deported from california, the california economy would be crippled. we are incredibly dependent on
those workers, in the agricultural sector especially, in the central valley, but also elsewhere in the state. this is a booming economy, and it's booming in part because we have so many immigrants. some of whom are here illegally. >> i wanted to ask you about h 1 b, the issue in silicon valley. visas given to professional foreign workers. some lawmakers feel the program needs to be overhauled. that it is subject to too much abuse by companies that take advantage of it. what is your take on that program? >> when i was labor secretary, i took a hard look at the h 1 b program and found that it was abused on occasion by employers who did not need the workers that they said they needed. they were trying to undercut the wages of american workers who were available to do these jobs. and so we've got to make sure that this program serves the purpose it was intended to serve. and that is to make sure that
particularly in high technology, employers get the skills they need, and that are not available in the u.s. work force. >> you have said tech companies could be pivotal in changing the economic system to empower more people nationally. how so? >> tech companies have a unique and important role. not only as the harbingers of the future and the frontier of american industry, but also in terms of all of the jobs that will be displaced over the next 10, 20 or 30 years because of technology. and tech companies, i think, have a responsibility, and also an economic self-interest in making sure that we don't lose our middle class. because of technological displacement. after all, who is going to buy all their gaj ets if people can no longer afford to buy them because there's no longer an american middle class. >> do you think they're doing
enough to help with policies that would put that in place, essentially for middle income americans? >> no. at this point they're doing nothing. the only public policy positions they're taking have to do with intellectual property and trade, and the normal range of issues that you would expect tech companies to worry about with regard to public policy. i wish they were more vocal and innovative in helping american workers essentially get new jobs that pay as much as the old jobs pay when they're displaced by technology. >> why should they do that, though? why should they feel obligated to do that? >> they need to do it, because they actually are responsible for a huge amount of technological displacement already occurred, but even more in the future. and they have the intellectual wherewithal to do something about it, to make it easier for americans to get retrained.
>> alexander acosta is a former justice department official, the son of cuban immigrants, graduated from harvard. what do you see as the most important task facing mr. acosta at this time? >> i view the labor department as part of the american work force. it's to end the stagnation of american wages, which for almost 40 years has caused americans greater and greater anxiety and worry. the second big problem is insecurity of wages and jobs. we are becoming a nation in which more and more workers know less and less about what they'll be doing a month, two months, certainly a year from now, and they no longer have the ability to predict what their income is going to be. this is a huge problem. it's a sociological program, an economic problem. it's a problem that has generated an enormous amount of anxiety in american families.
>> it's the type of economic anxiety that president trump tapped into when he was running for president, now that he's elected, he said he wants to grow the economy by 3%. >> that's a very difficult achievement. number one, because the population is not growing. the baby boomers are leaving the work force. and therefore, you have to rely almost entirely on the workers who are employed, becoming more productive. all of the data suggests that productivity is not growing nearly as fast as it used to. >> any advice you have for the new labor secretary, if and when he's confirmed? >> i would say generally, keep your eye on what is happening to the bottom 60%. not only in terms of wages, but also their pensions, their job security. make sure that they are entering to the extent possible into a grand bargain with employers, in
which employers treat them as assets to be developed instead of costs to be cut. it also seems to me why we are facing, have been facing this great populist wave, both an authoritarian populism that elected trump, and the progressive populism exemplified by bernie sanders. populism is not necessarily bad. in fact, the anger and indignation that has prompted it is completely understandable. but it is bad if it generates a kind of authoritarianism that undermines every value we have in this country. >> secretary robert reich, thank you for being with us. >> thank you. veteran lgbt activist cleave jones worked closely with san francisco supervisor harvey milk in the 1970s. in the mid-'80s, he created a quilt of names of people who had
died of aids. he wrote about a generation of gay rights activists that premieres sunday. he sat down to talk about the work still in front of him today. >> cleave jones, welcome to newsroom. >> thanks. >> your new memoir starts around 1973. when you came out here from arizona, young kid, did you have a sense of what you wanted to do other than have fun when you got here? >> i came here to be gay. i thought it was a place one could be gay, and not get killed, like in phoenix. >> you write in the pobook that you never saw yourself as a leader of a movement. more as a foot soldier. when did it change? >> i think after harvey died. meeting harvey was the most important thing in my life, and finding his body i think fixed my course. >> he was shot dead.
>> in city hall the day harvey was murdered. and as the anger built in the aftermath of the assassinations, and the gay community, cleave was at the forefront of that. in fact, he led the throng that went down to city hall the night after the dan white verdict. that ended up becoming the riot. >> harvey milk encouraged you to get into politics. >> yes. >> what did he see in you do you think that you didn't see in yourself? >> i was surprised that he took an interest in me. i was one of many young people he mentored. he was wonderful with young people. he managed to find that one skill or strength that you have that you didn't even know you had. i still think of him every day and miss him and wish he was here and hope he would be proud of me. >> when he died, the day he died, i think in the book you write that you felt it was over, that the movement was over. that it was going to end with his assassination.
why did you think that? >> he was kind of a father figure to me, our leader. everything we fought for was crushed. there's been so many times in my life that i thought it was over. i thought it was over when i was 15, and was planning to kill myself because i didn't want to be gay. i thought it was over when harvey got shot. i thought it was over in 1985 when all of my friends were dying of aids. then i thought it was over in '94 when i was dying of aids. i've been holding on to that reality, especially after this election, to -- i want to remind people that we can go through bad times and endure and survive, and eventually prevail. >> the trump administration, what concerns you the most? >> oh, everything. the reality that this guy has his hands on the nuclear codes is terrifying to me. that somebody who's up at 3:00 in the morning having twitter wars, could launch these missiles. i think much of what many of us have fought for our entire lives
hangs in the balance. i'm deeply concerned. >> in the time that harvey milk was active, there was maybe a sense for people who weren't there, that there was a unity within the gay/lesbian community. that was not the case. >> no. there was a very keep chasm between the men and women in the community, when lesbian women in large numbers set aside the differences to care for their gay brothers, to donate blood, to work as volunteers, and eventually to assume many of the leadership positions that had been dominated by gay men. >> after harvey milk dies, you go to work up in sacramento working for art, the assemblyman. that was a whole other level of politics. statewide politics. how was it different from san francisco? >> it was very exciting. >> you were the first openly gay staffer. >> yeah, the first openly gay staffer in the capital. you know, i've had two great
mentors in my life who ironically were rivals. harvey milk and then art agnos. and learning retail politics, it just really broadened my range, taught me how to really get things done on the inside as well as throwing rocks on the outside. which i already knew how to do. >> because you came to san francisco like many people, you were an outsider. you became an insider working at city hall. and more so, up in sacramento. and then act-up happens and queer nation. they're the outsiders. was that sort of a funny dynamic for you? >> to some extent, yes. there were conflicts between me and act up. there were people in act up who criticized the quilt, they saw it as passive. they would say you can't sit around making quilts. but no one was saying that's what we do. i spent much of my youth being an angry young man. but one of the things harvey taught me is that that doesn't
always win people over and not always the best way to make your point. when aids came, it was so important to broaden our base, to bring more people in. and i kept thinking about my grandmothers, you know. i was the firstborn grand child. so you know how much i was loved. i was spoiled. and my grandmothers, i think, truly either one of them would have gladly given her life to save mine. i kept thinking, there needs to be a place for people like my grand mothers in this moth. >> you, of course, survived the aids epidemic when many, many did not. do you feel an obligation to -- >> this is not about me. this is about the movement that saved my life. and this is about so many people who did not survive. and i think that my generation, i'm 62 now, and i think that my generation of gay men is disappearing very rapidly. i want the young people coming up, especially considering the challenges they now face, i want them to know their history. i want them to know what life
was like before aids. i want them to know what life was like before we were still considered criminals. and i want them to know how hard we had to fight to get where we are. i want them to defend that, and be prepared for it. >> cleave jones, the book is called when we rise, my life in the movement. thanks so much. >> thank you. thanks very much. that does it for us. for more of our coverage, go to kqed/newsroom. thanks for watching.
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